CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston's West Side renewal district could be expanded to include the area along Washington Street West near the former Staats Hospital.
Members of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority board authorized Executive Director Jim Edwards Wednesday to solicit proposals from consultants to study the expansion.
The authority has already established an urban renewal district along Washington Street West, and the area used to include Elk City, Edwards said. He was not sure why the district was allowed to expire around 2010.
The West Side renewal district includes most areas of the West Side flats except for the Elk City area, said Geoff Plagemann, a Charleston neighborhood planner.
Elk City refers to the area between the Elk River and the train tracks on Washington Street West. Elk City also includes the area between the Kanawha River to just north of Washington Street West.
Edwards sees few downsides to re-establishing the district.
"It's important to note that it brings with it no additional costs or taxes for the property owners," Edwards said.
Depending on how the plan is written, it also may not create any additional regulatory measures for property owners, he said.
The creation of the district would instead give property owners in Elk City access to funds appropriated through West Side Main Street, Plagemann said.
For example, West Side Main Street administers facade and sign grant funds allocated to the organization by the renewal authority. However, businesses applying for the grants must be located in a renewal district, he said.
"This would be another tool for property owners in the area," Plagemann said.
Edwards agreed, saying it would be very beneficial to business owners in the area to become part of an urban renewal district.
Not only would it allow them to apply for facade and sign grants, business owners could also apply for loans from the Urban Renewal Authority, Edwards said.